- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memorial Day. A time to remember to not forget.

It’s a time we lay wreaths on gravesites, watch films with characters who embody America’s fighting spirit and, perhaps, pour a libation (or two) to our ancestral heroes.

It’s a day to pay tribute the nation’s deceased members of the armed forces.

Memorial Day-related affairs held in the nation’s capital include honorable traditions.

This year as usual, Rolling Thunder puts the exclamation point on the need to honor POWs and MIAs. According to some estimates, there are more than 78,000 missing from World War II and 8,000-plus from the Korean War.

The POW-MIA movement began after the Vietnam War. The Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency website says, “In 1973, the U.S. listed 2,646 Americans as unaccounted for from the war, with roughly equal numbers of those missing in action, or killed in action/body not recovered.”

Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit, took the mantle in 1987 and incorporated in 1988, with an estimated 2,500 motorcyclists. This year, an estimated 900,000 are expected to pour into the city, where the bookend events are an evening candle vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall and the roar of the orchestrated roll out from the Pentagon parking plot on Sunday.

During and in between the Rolling Thunder events, there’s another D.C. tradition, the GI Film Festival’s Cinematic Salute to the Troops, which also honors men and women who wore uniforms.

As in years past, this year’s festival features American and Hollywood patriots, including Gary Sinise (“Forrest Gump”), Tom Berenger (“Platoon”), and Navy veteran and actor Jaime Kaler, and involves multiple venues. For example, the U.S. Navy Memorial Theater, Canadian Embassy Theatre and the Howard Theatre will show films. (The historic Howard, by the way, is one of the namesakes of Oliver Otis Howard, the so-called Christian general during the Civil War.) You can find the GI filmfest list and schedule here.

If you’re hoping to see Tom Cruise et al. pulling off dogfighting manueuvers in “Top Gun,” don’t be too disappointed. It’s not at the GI filmfest. Mr. Cruise did, however, say that a sequel to his 1986 blockbuster is in the works.

‘Til then, never forget to honor our fallen military heroes and roll out the welcome mats for those who salute them.

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